I still stumble over my words.
my tongue twists and tangles as I fight my way through vowels consonants diphthongs and everything in between --
take a breath. start again.
this language is one I had clung onto as a child,
clumsy fingers grasping desperately lest I lose it never to be found again.
I was taught only one alphabet in school; the other, I burned into my memory night after night just to spell my own name.
I am to be praised and ridiculed in equal measure --
shouldn't you know how to speak it by now? oh, you can't read that? what a shame. are you sure you're really a [REDACTED]?
even my own father, confident in his whiteness, his privilege,
tells me to study the language I've spoken since birth, the language he doesn't know,
as if I hadn't cried and spoken in whispers and shouts, as if I hadn't fought to keep my mother's language close to my chest,
as if I hadn't been looked down on enough yet.
"you'll have to take a proficiency test if you want to live here," he tells me during the longest five hours of my life,
where my rage boils over and I realize:
I am not a daughter to him. I am an object to be shown off.
so I plaster on a smile and mix it with a grimace, layer thinly veiled insults onto him in the only language he knows
then turn around and speak with full confidence to an employee who says nothing of my stumbles and halts and treats me like I am meant to speak their tongue.
this is the language of my family,
(the one that matters at least)
this is the language of convenience
(fit for a country I wish to leave)
it'll take more than the world's judgement to keep me quiet in either one.
even if I stumble over my words when I say that.